There is no doubt that both my physical and mental health have deteriorated in the three years since my wife’s death. I have slowed down, cannot do the things I used to do and frequently have no motivation to do very much except for my writing, reading, and being a loyal companion to my loving Israeli Kalba Cnaanit.
I am painfully aware of my diminished health and have begun to resent the good offered advice from my three children. Noting that I cannot walk well, losing my balance frequently and falling occasionally, they constantly advise me to join groups for yoga, exercise groups for senior citizens, to take adult education classes offered by many schools, to take daily walks…all in loving attempts to get me to move my body and to strengthen unused muscles.
Walking has become increasingly difficult and often painful for me. The cane I use for support does not always prevent me from falling but in some unusual way it helps me to find the needed leverage to pull myself up again.
My son is also my primary care physician and calls me daily to inquire what I have done on that day and did I remember to take the 10 assorted pills, 5 in the morning and 5 at night, which he prescribed for me.
My daughters watch my diet and chastise me when I eat too much of the forbidden carbohydrates and sugar which I enjoy (and eat them secretly). This week my son took a blood test from me and later informed me that while my glucose sugar should be 100 or lower, it was on that day 169… much too high for a diabetic. And the A1C should normally be 6, while mine was 7.1.
If I get caught cheating on an extra piece of chocolate cake wetted down with a glass of coca cola, you can probably hear their loud shouts in Tel-Aviv and Haifa. Of course, they mean well. They are concerned for me. They smother me with an abundance of love. But I tell them it doesn’t really matter what or how much I eat at my age. The grave will await my arrival at the right time.
On Tuesday and Wednesday of the past week, I had no energy at all and preferred to remain in my bed for most of the time. When walking from the bedroom to the kitchen, my legs were wobbly and I lost my balance (which is one of the major sources of my physical ailments). I felt as if I would faint. Two aspirin tablets and a tall glass of water did not alleviate my discomfort. It lasted the better part of two days.
On Thursday morning I encountered more serious anxiety. It was difficult to lift my legs .If I tried to walk in a straight line, my legs pulled me sometimes to the left and sometimes to the right. I had to lean against a wall and hold on to a table in order to be able to stand without falling.
I telephoned my son in his medical office and he was very concerned that my symptoms could possibly be a stroke (shevetz mochi). He insisted that I go directly to the neurologist and when I said I preferred not to go at this time, he threatened to send an ambulance to take me by force.
So I made the 20 minute drive and the neurologist was waiting for me. As we walked into his office he asked me : nu? Ma kara l’cha?” (What’s happened to you?) and I replied in one word: et zikna (old age). The promised golden years of old sage had turned into rust for me.
After a thorough mental and physical examination he telephoned the radiology department to inform them that he was sending Dr. Ben-Sorek’s father to them immediately for an MRI of the brain.
The technician noted that I was nervous and frightened and he was very gentle and explained all the procedures telling me what to expect… loud bells ringing, hammers banging and an assortment of loud volume lasting some 30 minutes.
When I was released from the table in the radiology unit, the presiding doctor who read the results shook my hand and said “go home; your brain is healthy, there is no sign of a stroke”. I can’t remember how many times I said “Todah l’El, todah l’El”, giving thanks to God for preserving me in life and in health.
The most important epic of the MRI procedure was the very happy news that I really do indeed have a brain. A healthy one.
Needless to say, my children rejoiced at the welcome news. But they still continue to noodge me to try yoga, stretching exercises and long daily walks.
But now that the neurologist and I both realize that I have a healthy brain, he must now aid me in learning how to walk without falling and how to prevent leaning to the right side or to the left side.
The right side is OK. But I don’t ever want to be called a left-ist.
If I lose my balance, hopefully it will be only on the right side…the side of the Blue and White and a dream of a Gantz-Lapid victory on April 9th.